Vice India all set to launch on 2 April

MUMBAI: More than 20 months after they formed the joint venture (JV), Vice Media and Times Group are ready to launch Vice India on 2 April. Vice Media CEO Asia Pacific Hosi Simon informed the gathering about the launch date at the ongoing FICCI Frames 2018.

Vice Media and The Times Group had created a JV to create original content for distribution across television, mobile, digital and linear platforms. The partnership will also see the creation of new local production studios. The launch of Vice Media’s TV service Viceland as a pay channel was also part of the plan.

Simon said that Vice will have a deeply local strategy for the Indian market. “We are launching Vice India on 2 April not Vice in India. In India, the goal is to be a deeply local, relevant company. Vice is a company of 1000 front doors. For instance, in China, Vice is about telling stories that people in that country care about.”

The company will have a full suite of services including a digital studio and a full production hub that will create different kinds of content including long form, short form, documentaries. Wherever Vice operates there is a 50:50 split between local content and content from abroad.

He mentioned the partnership that Vice Media has in the US with HBO saying that TV allows the company to create IP which can then be monetised again and again. “TV is a huge IP and content creation engine. We can take the IP to different platforms, countries and monetise it again and again,” he noted.

Talking about the difference between Vice Media and traditional media companies, he noted that traditional media companies have different departments like television, digital, and social while Vice has a studio-like approach.

“At Vice, we adopt a studio approach and that means that all we care about is the story. It can from anybody – whoever can find it. It can be the 19 year working on Snapchat. It can be a 22-year-old editor. It does not have to come from a veteran. We then decide on what platform the story goes to and in what format. Does it go to TV, mobile and other platforms? Maybe it will go to all. For us the story comes first while distribution is second,” he averred.

He said that the company in India will be led by locals and added that Vice Media recognises that there isn’t one India. Recently, the JV had appointed Chanpreet Arora as the chief executive officer (CEO). Earlier, Vice India had appointed Pragya Tiwari is the editor-in-chief and Samira Kanwar as the head of video.

“It isn’t about one language and one culture. It is a wildly diverse country. Our company must have a multi-regional, language approach. We want to help people come closer together, break barriers and find common ground. We will look at different regions and find local talent from writers to strategists. Vice Media is here for the long term. India is a huge cultural opportunity for us. We want to build our business here over the long term. Young audiences are super hungry for content,” he stated.

Vice India is looking to be a platform where young Indians can express their voice. Simon is hoping that young content creators in the country will use Vice India as a platform to create content that the rest of the world can take notice of and learn from. For him, a key reason for Vice Media being around for so long (the company was founded in 1994) is that it believes in innovation. It is against doing the same thing again and again. If it was to do that then it may not have lasted for so long. He noted that some people wrongly predicted the demise of the company when it shifted its headquarters to New York in 1999. The company challenges the status quo which is important in a fast-changing media and digital environment.

“We will rely on our local team in India to tell us how things work in India and challenge us. What I say or what Shane (Vice Media founder) says doesn’t matter. It is what the local team says works in India that matter. We are trying to build the brand and ethos of Vice in India but it should be something very different. The brand should be very elastic. I am happy if somebody sees Vice in India and says that it isn’t a copy. I don’t want to see what we are doing in the rest of the world being done here locally. I want our people in New York to feel challenged by what Vice India is doing. They should want to learn from India,” he noted.

For him, the journey of learning and being innovative has not ended although Vice Media has been around for 24 years. “Vice India is not about replicating what we are doing in the rest of the world. People ask us if we are still cool, how we will keep the status quo, have we sold out? The end of Vice was predicted in 1999. We are not in the business of trying to keep the status quo and trying to export one culture across the world. We are in the business of trying to break everything every day over and over again and keep innovating. That is what started our HBO relationship. We have to get better at what we do every single day. We are not done learning. This is the beginning of Vice in India. We may have been around for 24 years but if we keep doing the same thing every day then we will not be around for much longer,” he stated.